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Commentary: Security, economic, and people-to-people cooperation vital to SCO

By Xing Guangcheng  (People's Daily)    15:49, June 09, 2018

After years of running, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) has grown into a new type of comprehensive regional organization, with security, economic, people-to-people and cultural cooperation supporting it as three important pillars.

Security cooperation is a major highlight of the SCO, and its member states have reached important strategic consensus on fighting the three evil forces: terrorism, separatism and extremism.

From the Shanghai Convention on Combating Terrorism, Separatism and Extremism signed at the first SCO summit in Shanghai in 2001, to the signing of the SCO Convention on Combating Extremism at the 17th SCO summit in Astana, capital city of Kazakhstan, in 2017, the SCO member states have created a series of legal documents to combat the three tumours.

They formed a comprehensive legal system that serves as solid foundation to fight the three evil forces together.

The SCO members have also actively engaged themselves in the national and international legislation regarding the fight against terrorism, organized crimes and drug smuggling, and made substantial efforts to build a united global front of anti-terrorism led by the UN and based on the international law.

As an organization that firmly opposes to double standards in fighting terrorism and extremism, the SCO has held multiple regional anti-terrorism drills that have effectively deterred the three evil forces. It indicates the important role of the SCO in safeguarding regional security and stability.

In terms of regional economic cooperation, the SCO, facing new changes and challenges of the world, has strengthened economic construction and propelled economic globalization.

The SCO member states stand against anti-globalization and trade protectionism, with efforts to eliminate trade barrier and expand international cooperation. The organization has made its own contributions to an open global economy as well as multilateral international trade mechanism.

The SCO will further push forward the facilitation of regional trade and investment, create favorable conditions for regional economic cooperation, strive for smooth circulation of commodities, capital, services and technologies, and diversify traded commodities for each country.

It will concentrate efforts to carry out concrete cooperation projects in accordance with the Programme of Multilateral Trade and Economic Cooperation among the SCO member states, and also follow the Action Plan for 2016-2020 on Implementation of the SCO Development Strategy Towards 2025 and List of Events on further development of project activities within the SCO framework for 2017-2021.

In addition, great efforts have been made by the SCO member states to enhance cultural exchanges. They have maintained close partnership in health, science and technology, culture, tourism, education and environmental protection. They’ve also worked close on medical insurance, sanitary and epidemic prevention, as well as treatment of infectious diseases.

The SCO Intergovernmental Agreement on Cooperation in the Field of Culture inked in 2007 has played a positive role in promoting people-to-people exchanges among SCO member countries. The cultural exchanges under the SCO framework have deepened mutual understanding among the people of each member, and the organization has made substantial efforts in protecting and encouraging cultural diversity. It is a complete showcase of the “Shanghai Spirit”.

Among the various forms of people-to-people exchanges launched by the SCO members are culture year, language year, tourism year, art festivals and international expos. China has maintained close bilateral collaboration with other SCO member countries, which can be evidenced by the educational alliance China built along with Russia and Kazakhstan.

Tourism is a key area of people-to-people exchanges. Russia has turned into an increasingly popular destination among Chinese tourists, with the number of Chinese travelers visiting Russia in 2017 growing by 24 percent. As important countries along the ancient Silk Road, the SCO member states can join efforts to unearth the precious historical documents, as well as carry out cooperation on the study and protection of the cultural and natural assets along the route.

We have every reason to expect that the upcoming SCO summit held in Qingdao, east China’s Shandong Province will further promote in-depth cooperation in security, economy, and people-to-people exchanges, draw a blueprint for more effective cooperation, and make greater contribution to safeguarding regional security, stability and development.

The author is fellow researcher and director of the Institute of Chinese Borderland Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Source: People’s Daily Overseas Edition 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Wu Chengliang, Bianji)

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